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Recipe: Lamb Korma


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This creamy, thick dish traditionally has a base of dairy cream or coconut milk, with additional thickening from almonds or cashews. Combined with the spice masala, these ingredients form a ‘korma paste’, in which the lamb slowly stews.

Type of dish: Dinner
Equipment: Large soup pot with lid, blender or mortar and pestle
Servings: Makes 3 servings.


  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 cloves
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 TB coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 TB coconut oil or ghee, divided
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped (makes about 2 cups chopped onion)
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cashews, ground to a powder using blender, food processor, mortar & pestle, or spice grinder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup beef, bone broth, or lamb stock
  • pinch of saffron (1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Prepare the ginger-garlic paste. Place the ginger, garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt in a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender. Blend to a paste. It should result in approximately 2 TB of paste. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Prepare the spice mix, or masala. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the large spices first to the dry pan: the cardamom pods and the cloves. Heat for 30 seconds, until fragrant but not burning. Shake the pan around and add the coriander seeds. Heat for 15 seconds. Add the smallest spice; the cumin seeds. Heat for 15 more seconds, or until all spices are nicely fragrant. Remove the masala to a plate to cool. When cooled, grind it to a powder using a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or blender. Set the masala aside until ready to use.
  3. Put the saffron in a small bowl and cover with 2 TB of boiling water. Let soak for at least 10 minutes and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 TB of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Rinse the lamb and pat dry with a paper or cloth towel. Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the lamb to the pot and brown for 5 minutes or so, a minute or two per side. So as not to crowd the pan, we do this in two or three separate batches. Once the lamb is browned on all sides, remove the lamb to a plate.
  5. Add the additional 1 TB of oil to the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and add in the onions. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the ginger-garlic paste and cook for one more minute.
  7. Add the spice masala, stir well. Return the lamb to the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Stir well to coat the lamb with all the spices.
  8. Add the beef stock, the coconut milk, the ground cashews, the cinnamon stick, and the saffron with its soaking water. Stir in the turmeric powder and the 1/4 tsp salt. Bring the stew to a low simmer. Give it a good stir, cover and cook on low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir every once in a while during the cooking.
  9. Uncover the stew, stir and cook down to thicken, if necessary, for a few minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Remove the cinnamon stick prior to serving. Serve the stew garnished with chopped fresh cilantro.


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Chris Kresser in kitchen
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Join the conversation

  1. Hey Chris,
    Just cooked and devoured your korma.
    Have been informed by my partner of 14 years that it is the best meal l have ever cooked.
    It was sensational!
    Thanks again, it will definitely become a regular here

  2. Yummy, yummy!! I omitted the salt substituted the nuts with pine nuts, came out so well. I also used homemade coconut milk and beef stock. Sooo good served with cauliflower rice. Thanks.

  3. Made this over the weekend with shoulder of british lamb from my local farm shop and served with “cauliflower” rice and tender stem broccoli. absolutely delicious, many thanks for the recipe.

  4. Now I know what to do with the lamb I got from my local CSA. It is a meat I am not all that familiar with. Thank you!

  5. Any alternate ingredients for those of us allergic to ginger, cumin and tumeric?
    I’m not sure how it might be just omitting the offending spices.

  6. There is one way to improve this recipe. Use pastured goat instead of lamb, heavenly.